Giant planets at wide separations are rare and direct imaging surveys are resource-intensive, so a cheaper marker for the presence of giant planets is desirable. One intriguing possibility is to use the effect of planets on their host stars' debris disks. Theoretical studies indicate giant planets can gravitationally carve sharp boundaries and gaps in their disks; this has been seen for HR 8799, β Pic, and tentatively for HD 95086 (Su et al. 2009, Lagrange et al. 2010, Moor et al. 2013). If more broadly demonstrated, this link could help guide target selection for next generation direct imaging surveys.Using Spitzer MIPS/IRS spectral energy distributions (SEDs), we identify several dozen systems with two-component and/or large inner cavity disks (aka Hole-y Debris Disks). With LBT/LBTI, VLT/NaCo, GeminiS/NICI, MMT/Clio and Magellan/Clio, we survey a subset these SEDselected targets (~20). In contrast to previous disk-selected planet surveys (e.g.: Janson et al. 2013, Wahhaj et al. 2013) we image primarily in the thermal IR (L'-band), where planet-to-star contrast is more favorable and background contaminants less numerous. Thus far, two of our survey targets host planet-mass companions, both of which were discovered in L'-band after they were unrecognized or undetectable in H-band. For each system in our sample set, we will investigate whether the known companions and/or companions below our detection threshold could be responsible for the disk architecture. Ultimately, we will increase our effective sample size by incorporating detection limits from surveys that have independently targeted some of our systems of interest. In this way we will refine the conditions under which disk SED-based target selection is likely to be useful and valid.
Search for Life Beyond the Solar System. Exoplanets, Biosignatures & Instruments
- Pub Date:
- March 2014